Childhood and family nutrition


I Early nutrition and allergic diseases


LILLA – Promoting nutrition and allergy health in pre-schoolers

The study aims to decrease the number of children with food allergies in day care.  Two different interventions will be conducted in 30 day care centres in the metropolitan area of Vantaa, Espoo and Helsinki.  In order to promote allergy health, healthier diet and life quality, new evidence-based strategies based on the new national allergy policy will be developed, conducted and evaluated.

Collaboration: the Department of Allergy, Helsinki University Central Hospital, cities of Vantaa, Espoo and Helsinki and their food catering providers.

Principal investigator (nutrition): Maijaliisa Erkkola

Principal investigator (allergies): Mika Mäkelä

Research team:
University of Helsinki: Mikael Fogelholm, Taru Saloheimo, Helena Hauta-alus, Carina Kronberg-Kippilä, Charlotta Hyttinen, Elina Vaara
Skin- and Allergy hospital/HUS: Anna Pelkonen, Kaarina Kukkonen, Pia Ralli
City of Espoo: Mervi Sirén-Vainio, Kirsi Kinnunen (Espoo Catering)
City of Vantaa: Tuula Nuutinen, Marjukka Myötämäki (Vantaan Tilapalvelut Vantti Oy, ateria- ja puhtauspalvelut)
City of Helsinki: Tarja Heikkinen (Palmia), Erja Suokas

The DIPP Nutrition Study  - a birth cohort study

The Type I Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) Nutrition Study, is a prospective birth cohort study that started in 1996. Studies are carried out in collaboration with the National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, and Tampere School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere.  In the allergy arm of the study, the main objective is to investigate whether the diet during prenatal period and the first six years of life is associated with development of allergic diseases and asthma in children.

Head of the DIPP Nutrition: Prof Suvi M. Virtanen, the National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki.

Allergy research team: Maijaliisa Erkkola (HY), Minna Kaila (Hjelt-instituutti), Bright Nwaru (TaY), Päivi Luukkainen (HYKS), Mirka Lumia (HYKS), Johanna Metsälä (THL), Hanna-Mari Takkinen (TaY)


II Lifestyle interventions; ongoing pilots


HYPE - Welfare for families

The aim of the research is to improve healthy lifestyles and overall well-being of families expecting their first child, and to develop self-assessment tools for families. In addition, the aim is to develop usability of an electronic health record and other methods to support work of the maternity clinic nurses. Long-term goal of the project is to promote healthy lifestyle of the whole family during pregnancy, and to prevent diseases originating from poor lifestyles. The idea is to influence the whole family, including a spouse. Collaboration (SALWE): National Institute for Health and Welfare, Universities of Helsinki, Tampere and Jyväskylä, National Consumer Research Center, Finnish Heart Association

Contact person: Maijaliisa Erkkola


ETANA – A Pilot intervention study on diet of toddlers in Finland

The aim is to pilot a family-centred tailored nutrition intervention at child welfare clinics, targeting the main dietary defaults of Finnish children.
At present, the data is being analysed and the results will be reported in 2013.

Collaboration: Universities of Helsinki and Tampere, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finnish Food Information, Finnish Heart Association; Ruokatieto ry

Contact person:Maijaliisa Erkkola


BERRY UP - Gamification as a tool to promote healthy eating among adolescent athletics, a pilot study

A pilot study aims to see, whether a smartphone food journal application which enables 1. a web-based food diary, 2. an interactive communication between the user and a nutritionist and 3. the use of gaming and competition could be used to encourage adolescent athletes to adopt healthier diet. The study will compare the change in behavior obtained using this gamified smartphone approach with that resulting from conventional dietary tutoring.

Research team: Maijaliisa Erkkola (HY), Mikael Fogelholm (HY), Kirsi Pietiläinen (HYKS), Mikko Lehtovirta (Hjelt-instituutti), Michael Quarshie (Wellness Foundry), Henna Vepsäläinen (HY)